A safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving to each of you.

There’s much merit in taking weight training very seriously in and out of season. Luke Anderson and Aiden Binkerd are two individuals who come to mind almost immediately when I think about it.

These senior members of Warsaw Tiger football’s Black Plague defense didn’t necessarily gain a significant percentage of weight between their junior and senior seasons, but they balanced muscle mass with a leaner look. Binkerd was the only Tiger starting linebacker… built like a linebacker. Anderson looks like someone a D3 or NAIA coach could project into his starting lineup as early as his sophomore season.

Each gentleman was also visibly quicker this year. Binkerd was a top sprinter on Warsaw’s track and field squad. Anderson looked like he added flexibility to his strength, and such an equation results in improved speed when an athlete successfully combines the two.

The most significant physical transformation I’ve seen, however, as we near the school year’s halfway point belongs to a Warsaw Tiger female athlete. Lady Tigers/Indianapolis University basketball commit, Kacilyn Krebs, shows the most impressive visible evidence of embracing the benefits of weight training.

She is demonstrating greater physical strength, and her speed has drawn closer to the impressive first-step speed only Bailie Stephens demonstrated last season.

Krebs is lean and mean, and her future endeavor with the D2 Greyhounds makes perfect sense. You read it correctly; not D3, not NAIA. Her post-graduation gaining program’s coach did some projecting, too.

More on Krebs in a bit, but let’s discuss projecting.

Projecting is a coach’s ability to evaluate the physical and athletic composition of an athlete to determine where they will evolve in one or more seasons.

It’s taking a young man like Binkerd (listed as 6’1” 200 lbs.) and seeing these traits to determine whether he’ll be a linebacker, or a good-sized strong safety. Binkerd covered the pass well, and he was part of the best pass rush unit Tiger football fans have seen in at least a decade. His 2021 season numbers back up these observations.

Anderson was part of that effective pass rush, too. The 6’3” 240 lb. senior doesn’t have linebacker speed, but he could become an edge-rusher who gives offensive tackles fits, or a college football recruiter could… project… his development into a blocking tight end that could fend off an edge rusher if he passes the capable hands test, to boot.

This is how athletes tend to be recruited for college athletics. What are they going to morph into when these 18-year-old preppers turn into 21-year-old men?

Back to Krebs.

There are cases where the stats a high school athlete churns out are not astonishing by any means. There is no disparagement meant toward Krebs’s offensive output (7 points per game career average entering her senior season), but the best appears yet to come. I’d be remiss if I did not mention she does already have greater than 100 career three-point baskets.

What spectators and coaches are seeing on the hard court this year, however, is a bump in confidence coming from hard work in practice and increased on-court confidence in her physical strength. Krebs is already moving the ball around better, and playing improved defense compared to the prior season.

The kid has guns (to be a bit more colloquial), and she figured out how to get bigger and stronger without any detriment to her basketball muscles.

She’s dropping three-point shots beyond the arc with less visible exertion than seasons past.

I’m eager to see how the weight training pays off against teams like Crown Point (where she and her Tiger teammates are heading this morning), Penn, Homestead (who showcases 6’3” UConn commit Ayanna Patterson) and Warsaw’s conference foes. The recent Three Rivers Conference (TRC) hat trick (lopsided wins versus Manchester, Valley, and Wabash) didn’t offer the physical challenge Krebs and her teammates will now see hereafter.

The Lady Tigers aren’t wired to say things like this about their three recent opponents because they’re collectively humble. However, those who watched what Warsaw handed to those TRC opponents will wholeheartedly agree.

I hope the freshman dressing for and playing in varsity girls’ basketball action used their recent runs of meaningful minutes to set aside the jitters and face the tougher, much more physical imminent competition.

These Lady Tiger freshman cagers - specifically Abbey Peterson, Brooke Winchester, and Leila Knepp - are witnessing, first-hand, Krebs’s practical application of the benefits of investing numerous hours in the weight room. It will be interesting to project, and even more fun to watch, these three athletes if they become part of an increased conditioning contagion.